Educating Educators is as Important as Educating Students


Teaching is one of the oldest professions. Through the years, we have learned teaching methods from people of the past, such as Socrates and Marie Montessori. However, new techniques and teaching strategies are being researched and implemented in every classroom, and today’s teachers must be equipped with the skills and knowledge to be the best they can be for their students.

Peter Drucker, an Austrian-born American educator and the founder of management education, said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.” The best teachers are the ones who are constantly pushing themselves to learn about new research in their field.

Think about how different the world would be if we still used Morse Code to communicate? Just like the communications field, teaching is a field that evolves as practitioners find more effective ways to reach students.

For Credit Union of Texas (CUTX) it is just important to educate teachers as well as students. Its CEO, Eric Pointer, acknowledges that educating today’s students is paramount to their well-being but he believes educators should also have the opportunity to further their knowledge. “Students expect teachers to be subject matter experts for the topics they teach and even some they do not teach,” he adds. “Having the opportunity for continuing education can ultimately make teachers more effective.”

Several years ago, CUTX set up a special scholarship, the William H. Cotton Scholarship, to honor William H. Cotton for his 43 years of dedication and service to Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and the credit union. He retired as an associate superintendent for DISD and as a board officer for CUTX. “Mr. C,” as he was affectionately known, began his career in 1957 as a teacher at Colonial Elementary School. After he retired, he served the district in many capacities and garnered numerous awards. He passed away in May of this year at the age of 85.

Each year CUTX accepts applications for this $20,000 scholarship. It is awarded to one DISD educator or administrator who wants to pursue a post-baccalaureate degree in the field of education while continuing to serve the DISD community. The eligibility requirements are straight-forward; a good-standing credit union member, a full-time or part-time DISD faculty or administrator, the desire to further your education career while serving the DISD community during the scholarship term, and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.

The individuals who apply for the William H. Cotton Scholarship know that education is a never-ending process. It does not stop after earning a degree and starting a career. Through continuing education, career-minded individuals constantly improve their skills and become more proficient educators. It is important that teachers pursue advanced degrees, not only to ensure the best learning outcomes for their students but also to be more effective and satisfied in their profession.

Three scholarship recipients shared why receiving this scholarship meant so much to them. 

Xavier Almaguer, a Chemistry AP teacher in the School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, is pursuing a Master’s in Education Curriculum and Instruction at Texas A & M Commerce. He shared that his father influenced his decision to become an educator. “My father was the first person in our family to finish high school. I realized early on how important it was to not only have a good education but to also have strong teachers. I always knew I wanted to pursue teaching as a career, and I needed to help other families break the vicious cycle of poverty.  I am honored to have been selected for this prestigious scholarship,” he said.

Shareefah Mason, a middle school American History teacher at Zumwalt Middle School in Dallas, wants the DISD to become the premier urban district in the country by 2020. Her vision is to create a distinguished teacher training program for its most successful teachers to learn viable strategies from proven educators to impact positive change with low-income students to increase student achievement. Mason shared, “Like William H. Cotton, I know the struggles impoverished students face and the potential that lies within waiting to emerge. I embrace the opportunity to become the next William H. Cotton.” She is pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership at California Coast University.

Israel Rivera, principal at Jose (Joe) May Elementary School in Dallas, is pursuing his Educational Doctorate at Southern Methodist University. His objective is to enhance his leadership skills by building effective teams that will drive and sustain significant improvement in the school culture and quality of instruction to increase student achievement.

He said, “Growing up I was always reminded that education was the key to success. As a product of DISD and a first-generation immigrant, I can relate to what many of our students’ experience. I share my story of perseverance and that I was the only one in my immediate family to graduate high school and college, then to earn a Master’s degree and soon a doctorate. William H. Cotton’s passion, dreams, and trailblazing attitude inspire me to add to the legacy he has left for us to carry onward.

The educational standards are constantly changing, making it even more challenging for teachers to keep up with evolving trends and best practices in the field. Advanced education degrees transform teachers into better educators enabling them to share relevant information and instruction for today’s students. Research by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences concluded that student achievement can improve by as much as 21 percentile points as a result of teachers’ participation in well-designed professional development programs.

It is easy for teachers to become burned out by the daily routine of teaching. Advanced educational degrees allow them to step out of their daily routine and become the student instead of the teacher. This keeps educators engaged because they are receiving the professional assistance they need to be better teachers. After all, it is the talents of these dedicated teachers that inspire students to become effective future leaders themselves.Top of Form.

Author: Jennifer Olvera is Vice President of Engagement at Credit Union of Texas in Dallas.

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